Tag Archives: Jalapeno

{ Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde }

Turns out my spicy avocado dipping sauce was so good last night, that it was eaten at an unproportional rate with repect to my empanadas. I have left over empanadas, but no more sauce, providing me the perfect opportunity to experiement with cooking a new one. In keeping with the green theme, I decided to give roasted tomatillo salsa (aka salsa verde) a whirl tonight. I would love to say it is my own recipe, however, I stole it from Tyler Florence. And with this confession now out in the open, I say that it deserves two thumbs up and earns a respectiable place among my collection of favorite recipes.

This salsa combines the favors of roasted garlic, Spanish onions, sweet tomatillo tomatoes, spicy jalapeños, and lime juice to create a condiment suitable for topping any protein or corn product. You can put it over chicken, over pork, over seafood, over nachos, hell, you can even spread it on a piece of toast for a banging Mexican-inspired snack. It is flavorful, yet not overpowering, which makes it one of my new favorite condiments.

{ Ingredients }

  • 10 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1-2 jalapeños, stemmed
  • 1 spanish onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 lime, juiced

{ To Make the Salsa Verde } Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the tomatillos in half (NOTE: you should have already removed the husks and washed them). Place them cut side down on a baking sheet. Add the garlic cloves, jalapeños, and onion to the tray and roast for 12-15 minutes.

Transfer the roasted vegetables and the juices from the pan into a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse the mixture until well combined but still chunky.

Adjust the seasonings to desired taste. I always add a couple dashes of tobasco for more spice, as well as extra lime juice.

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{ Beef Empanadas with Avocado Dipping Sauce }

I’ve been back in the States for about 1 month now, and have been taking full advantage of enjoying my much missed American grub (Chipotle, Dunkin Donuts, Wawa milkshakes, Five Guys burger’s, and the like). But then yesterday, a very unexpected thing occurred–I was struck by an empanada craving. This took me by surprise because I swore that I would never want another empanada upon leaving South America. Not because I don’t like them, but because I had consumed so many over my 6 months there.

Empanadas are the beating heart of Argentine cuisine, and the epitome of South American fast food. They are as beloved and frequently consumed as French fries are by Americans.  And, since you may have already gathered, I’m not one to deny myself food indulgences, I ate up empanadas like I would never be able to get them again after I returned home. I would start off the day with a ham and ricotta one from La Cocina, then grab a spicy chicken one from Na Serapia on my walk to class, and the Kobe beef ones from La Cabrera made a perfect appetizer before my gut-dropping, artery-clogging, 200mg t-bone steak.

Then after months of ordering empanadas out (everywhere from 5 star restaurants to hole-in-the-wall pizza dives that Guy Fieri only wishes he could find), I decided to try making them myself. I didn’t think they would be nearly as good as the authentic Argentine ones, but when they turned out equally delicious, I knew that I had embarked on something detrimental to my health (not to mention, slender physic). Empanadas were no longer something only savored outside of the home, they were a new refrigerator staple, my go-to drunk snack, and my favorite food to experiment with in cooking. I created all sorts of crazy empanada fillings and flavor combinations, and each one had a unique dipping sauce paired with it.

You see, dipping sauce was my American twist on the Argentine classic. Lets face it, we are a nation in love with condiments- a people that put ketchup and hot sauce on any and every thing, a generation of extra dressing on the siders, and yes, I’m talking to you, all my heavy handed salt shakers. Condiments are the cornerstone of American food. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the boutique burgers being served up in our country. Forget lettuce, tomato, and onion. We don’t want it unless its got foie gras, truffled mushrooms, carmalized onions, Kobe beef, and a price tag of about 15 dollars. Condiments = deliciousness.

So without further ado (sorry for my condiment digression), I present to you my recipe for spicy beef empanadas with DELICIOUS spicy avocado dipping sauce!

{ Ingredients }

For the Avocado Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 roasted jalapeno, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Dash of Tobasco or Cholula hot sauce
{ Directions } Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until smooth. Adjust seasoning to preference.

For the Spicy Beef Empanadas:

  • 1/2 kg (1 lb) of lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 beef bullion cubes
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 2 scallions, chopped (white & green parts)
  • 1/2 cup pimento stuffed green olives, chopped
  • 20 pre-packaged frozen empanada shells (I use Goya or Saltena brands)

 { To Make the Beef Filling } Heat the vegetable oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, peppers, and kosher salt. Sautee until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.

Add the ground beef, breaking it up with back of a spoon. Add the cumin, cayenne pepper, tomato puree and beef bullion. Cover pot with a lid and allow to cook for 2 minutes.

Mix beef, stirring in scallions and chopped olives. Once the meat is cooked through, remove from heat. Allow to cool and then use for empanada or taco filling.

{ To Assemble the Empanadas } Defrost empanada shells and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or cooking spray.

Dip the tip of your finger in warm water and moisten 1/2 the rim of the empanada shell, making a half-moon motion. Spoon the empanada filling into the center of the dough and fold over half-wise, pinching the edges between your fingers so that the dough seals around the meat pocket.

Place the empanada on the prepared baking sheet and firmly press down on the edges with the back of a fork to enforce the closure.

Then, using a silicone brush, gently apply an egg wash (1 beaten egg + 1 tablespoon water) to the tops of the empanadas. This helps them to get shiny and golden in the oven.

Repeat this process until you have finished making all of the empanadas. Place the baking sheet into the oven and allow to cook for 8-10 minutes, until the tops are golden.

Remove from oven and serve with avocado dipping sauce.

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{ Thai Lemongrass Vegetable Soup }

Thai Vegetable Lemongrass Soup

One of the most challenging aspects about cooking as a college student is that you’re typically only cooking for yourself and so there tends to be a lot of waste. You make a tray of lasagna on Monday and you have to eat it for every lunch and dinner all week to get rid of it. But since no one enjoys eating the same thing at every meal (unless you are a freakish creature of habit), it usually ends up getting left in the fridge until a roommate complains about the smell and makes you throw it away. I’ve found that the best solution to this wasteful dilemma is to cook soup! You can make a large pot of it and store a desired amount in the fridge for the week, and then freeze the rest in individual serving-sized plastic ware. This week I was craving something hearty and healthy, and I decided to experiment with Thai flavors. I always order Tom Kha Gai soup to start at Thai restruarants, which is a lemongrass chicken soup (sometimes made with coconut milk), and I wanted to create my own version at home. I don’t really know how to cook Thai, but since I love to eat it so much, I am familiar with the flavors and how to combine them. What I didn’t take into account was how hard the ingredients are to find, how expensive they become, and how difficult and unusual they are to work with!

I went to Whole Foods, and $80 later, I had a had 4 large bags filled with enough groceries to open a small Thai restaurant myself. Since I couldn’t find a recipe that I liked online, I decided to combine aspects of 4-5 different ones I saw, and create my own. I felt like a little kid, just throwing things into the pot as I went, but it turned out awesome! I used a lot of really great vegetables, and the broth has an awesome spicy lemongrass flavor.

To serve the soup, I took inspiration from Vietnamese Pho and garnished the bowl with bean sprouts, cilantro leaves, jalapenos, lime wedges, and Siracha hot sauce. I ate the vegetables with my chopsticks in my right hand and held a spoon for the broth in my left! None of this soup made it to the freezer, because I looked forward to eating it for every meal of the week (I also shed some pounds, because it is super lo-cal!). Hopefully, you will enjoy the recipe!

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2-3 stalks fresh lemongrass, peeled and chopped into 2 inch lengths
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 4 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, freshly grated or minced
  • 5 teaspoons Thai red curry paste (less if you don’t want it to be as spicy)
  • 2 cups shitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 cups Napa cabbage, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1-2 jalapenos, thinly sliced (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Garnishes: bean sprouts, green onion, sliced jalapeno, cilantro, and Siracha

{ To Make Soup }

 In a large stock pot, combine the vegetable stock, chicken stock, and lemongrass pieces. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes.

In a small pan over medium-high heat, warm the vegetable oil and then sauté the garlic and ginger for about 2 minutes, or until fragrant but not burnt! Add the Thai red curry paste and combine mixture over heat for 2 minutes.

Add the garlic, ginger, curry paste to the broth in the stockpot and stir well. Add the broccoli, red peppers, jalapenos, and zucchini. Allow to boil for 5 minutes and then reduce heat to low. Add the cabbage, green onion, and shitake mushrooms and allow to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove pot from heat and stir in soy sauce, lime juice, and cilantro. Season to taste with these ingredients and serve in individual bowls with garnishes.

Lemongrass Vegetable Soup with Plate of Garnishes

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{ Beef and Black Bean Chili }

Beef and Black Bean Chili with Green Onion Garnish

Day one on any diet isn’t too bad. You’re excited about having started something new and you go to bed on that first night feeling satisfied that you spent the entire day eating healthy. Then day two rolls around and the reality sinks in—you’re not just eating healthy for one day, you’re eating healthy indefinitely. Suddenly, it doesn’t feel so good to be substituting your fries for a side salad. Instead, you feel left out as you watch the rest of the world guzzle Coca-Cola and munch on potato chips. Your water bottle and carrot sticks are downright depressing in comparison.

Today, I felt the first painful sting of the diet, and I highly doubt that it will be the last. I started off my morning with the 3-egg Garden Vegetable Omelet and then for lunch went to the Rathskeller (the on campus bar and restaurant) with a group of friends, only to finnd that there was not one thing on the menu that I could eat! Fried Ravioli, Mozzarella Sticks, Jalapeno Poppers, Buffalo Chicken Subs, and my personal favorite, the “No-Yes Fries” (fries smothered with cheddar cheese, bacon, and ranch) were all out of the question. Rather than be high maintenance and attempt to construct a meal that pulled various ingredients from all different menu items, I just decided that I would cook myself a delicious pot of chili at home later. So I jogged home from campus (as I have decided to start running to and from my classes…my apologies to those of you who sit directly to my left and right) and I started prepping up the vegetables for a pot of black bean and beef chili. I got the original recipe from Food Network online, however, I have made so many modifications that I think I can safely call it my own now! I like spicy chili so I make mine with a lot of cayenne pepper, but if you don’t want the heat, then feel free to leave it out. I also add Cholula Hot Sauce while the meat is cooking for some additional spice and flavor, but again, this is optional.

It is really important that you use the leanest ground beef that you can find. It is more expensive, but it makes a huge difference in the consistency of the recipe. I once tried to cut corners and save money by buying a fattier ground beef, and the meat let off so much oil and fat that the chili was almost inedible. This recipe also makes for a great taco meat recipe if you just don’t add all the beef broth, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Instead, add like ¼ cup beef broth and ½ (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes, leaving out the tomato sauce altogether. Let the meat simmer until the sauce reduced slightly and then serve. Since this makes a pretty large amount, I freeze mine in individual serving containers and they hold in the freezer for a very long time. When you are ready to eat, just put in fridge and let defrost for a few hours or use the microwave to defrost and reheat. It tastes just as good, if not even better, than when it was first made! When I’m not dieting, I like to serve this on a bed of white rice or use it to make nacho platters, which are always a late night hit. Again, you can also use it for taco meat if you use less of the liquid ingredients.

{ Ingredients }

  • 2 pounds of lean ground sirloin (90% lean)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup beef broth, like ½ of a 15 oz can
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8 ounce) can of tomato sauce
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

{ To Make Beef and Black Bean Chili }

In a large skillet or stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high flame. Add the ground beef and season with salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir meat with spatula and cook until crumbled and brown, about 7-10 min. Add the onions, peppers, garlic, jalapeno, and season with cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper (if desired). Allow meat to cook with veggies for about 5 min. Add the beef stock and scrape up drippings from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 20-25 min, stirring occasionally. Garnish with cilantro or minced green onion and serve!

Nutritional Information

The total number of calories in this dish are 2569, which leads to about 321 calories per serving (if you get 8 total servings). The nutritional breakdown is as follows: 106 g of fat, 197 g of carbohydrates, 59 g of fiber, 252 g of protein. This information is for the pot overall, so to find the information per serving just divide figures by 8.

Cost of Ingredients

The total cost of making this meal is $20.52, with the assumption that you have the olive oil and spices. Since I have left over red pepper and garlic from my Mexican Black Bean Salad, my total cost was only 17.62. I got about 8 bowls of chili out of this recipe, which leads to a total cost of $2.20 per serving. A similar portion of soup from Whole Foods would cost you $4.99, so there is a cost savings.

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